In twenty years as a driver, I have noticed one thing all car owners have in common: they have a guaranteed life cycle from the time they get their license to the day they have their license revoked (or perhaps I mean the day they should have their license revoked). You may not believe me right now but wait until you’ve read the evidence.
The life of a car owner begins when they pass their driving test at whatever age the government see fit (Americans make you wait, the Indian government somewhere in the middle and the British can’t wait to fill the roads). The first car is always the cheapest to insure, usually a small hatchback around seven years old with an engine no bigger than those used in lawn mowers, the type of car you often see sticking to every speed limit rigidly, like it’s a target rather than a limit.
Next, comes, the boy/girl racer stage. They buy another hatchback around the same age, but this time they make sure it has a 1200cc engine, a power horse by their standards. This time they dress it up like a little girl dresses a doll, trying to make it look pretty and fast. The cars end up so low down that they struggle to get over speed humps and they have exhausts the size of the driver’s head. You’ll spot these cars by the way they make a noise akin to that when you get a hole in your exhaust, as those 1200cc engines hardly make the music of a V8.
Then comes the sensible stage, the married-with-children time of a driver’s life. Here comes the people carrier. You know the sort, the vehicle that is no bigger on the inside than a standard Ford Focus or Vauxhall/Opel Astra. It’s taller though, perfect for those really tall children you’ve just had. You will recognise these cars by their stupid names like Sharan, Lucida, Estima and Zafira. They also, more often than not, have children staring out of the back window waving at strangers (whatever happened to ‘stranger danger’?)
Now the children have grown up and flown the nest, it’s time for the midlife crisis car – the time when you start to drive around in convertibles allowing your newly-formed jowls to shake attractively in the wind. During this time you are statistically more likely to buy a sports car, such as a Lamborghini Gallardo or, more often than not, one of those Volkswagen Porsche things. This is the point at which people look and think, “I didn’t imagine he would more of a prat than when he had his 1200cc Corsa at 19 years old, but he’s gone and proven me wrong.”
When you’ve got over trying to attract women (or men, because ladies have midlife crises too) that are half your age, you move onto the old-but-not-quite-a-pensioner stage of car ownership. This is when you buy a brand new car, usually made by Fiat, Ford or Honda. You drive everywhere at 40mph, regardless of whether you are on a road with a 60mph speed limit or a 30mph limit. You wind up everyone on faster roads and then annoy the police on slower roads, making you annoying to absolutely everyone. This is the stage when you really should have your license revoked, just before…
The final part of a car owner’s life cycle, that time when you revert back to the beginning with a small-engined ‘sensible’ car, one with the horsepower of a pony. You’ll buy the smallest car available on the market and still struggle to see over the steering wheel due to body shrinkage. Haven’t these people heard of cushions? You can spot these tiny drivers a mile off, and even when this is literally the case you get closer very quickly as they go at least 10mph under the speed limit, everywhere!
That’s the life cycle of a car owner. You know it’s true! Where are you in the process?